Claire Voyant: Sharp Eyes On The Future
~by Mike Ventarola
(photos courtesy of the Claire Voyant website)
After years fraught with strife and disorganization,
Victoria Lloyd, Chris Ross, and Ben Fargen left their previous bands and
like a phoenix from the ashes, re-emerged as Claire Voyant. With
tongue firmly planted in their cheek, they utilized a name with a double
entendre, which ultimately resulted with their being on a top ten list
for the worst band names.
Following their collective bliss culminated with a cohesion laden with spiritual and emotional components. This almost psychic harmonization was galvanized from their prior working experience together, thus this camaraderie permitted the band to strive and create music that was as emotionally charged as some of their favorite inspirations. They sought to keep the emotions real and the sound unique while avoiding the pitfall of sounding like anyone else in the various genres they would be compared to. Despite their integration, songwriting is still a muse like endeavor that they are at a loss to explain. Claire Voyant expresses the gamut of emotions from light, darkness, beauty, and hope and anticipates that the musical journey is as healing to the listener as it is to each of them. Fans from all corners of the globe are connecting to this exhilaration, making the band a rising star in the underground.
Just last year, Claire Voyant was
signed to European Label, Accession-Records, fronted by Diary of Dreams'
Adrian Hates. A collection of remixes titled "Time Again" was released
in May 2000 which contains remixes by VNV Nation, Front 242, Covenant and
many others and the entire back catalog of CD’s was just released in Europe
on Accession in November 2000. The band continues to receive critical
acclaim from magazines such as Zillo, Orkus, and Sonic Seducer just to
name a few.
Victoria muses, "I hope that in 2001 I am able to keep up with the CV releases and the HMB release that will surely happen early in the year. Daniel and I hope to do some European dates and maybe even US dates for the release of the HMB record. The experience of collaborating with Daniel is something I think we both enjoyed enough to continue...who knows? : ) HMB is my alter ego...his music brings out a completely different side to me lyrically and vocally...I feel a much tougher exterior with his music...more angst...more chaos! ha!"
Despite not being a traditional Goth band,
Claire Voyant has found that they do have a large following in the gothic
underground. The goal for this band is not to be pegged into any
one genre, thereby limiting their creative outlets, but they are ever grateful
to the darkwave fans and consistently try to maintain fan base loyalty
by keeping the music moody yet enchanting.
MV: What emotions run through your mind when you see all the attention the band is getting?
VL: Well of course I am excited by the attention the band is getting...It brings out a lot of hope for things to come.
MV: What is it about Claire Voyant that intrigues the listener more than any of the other bands any of you have worked with in the past?
VL: The fact that Chris, Ben, and I have
worked together long enough to "know" intuitively what works for
MV: What were some of your most moving inspirations?
VL: Generally Speaking: Love. Everybody wants it, needs it, and feels empty without it...while we do everything we can sometimes to push it away...that type of conflict.
Beauty. All people have different ideas about this subject. Whether it is internal or external...how true beauty is achieved...how it drives people to do so many wonderful or terrible things.
Time. Milestones inspire me...birthdays, solstice, anniversaries...anything that reminds me that the world is spinning regardless of what I am doing seems to bring a burst of creativity...weird!
MV: Why do you think that many bands are fearful of the "goth band" label despite some making a decent living as a "goth band"?
VL: This is such a weird phenomenon...I know (or have heard) from talking to managers and record labels that supposedly the term "goth" in the description is detrimental to a band...I am not sure why. I think if a band is good there is a market for what they do... "industry people" like to make up things to scare bands into conforming. It goes back to the whole mainstream idea that all bands have to fit between "The Backstreet Boys and The Red Hot Chili Peppers" or "Brittany Spears and Alanis Morisette" "change your music, your look, etc. and we'll give you a record deal" at that point who would want one? Not me! I already have a job where I don't like what I do for money, Ha!
I think some bands take the goth/darkwave underground fans for granted and when they are not as "huge" as they think they should be...they "blame" it on the crowd that has been so supportive and faithful to them. That is sad and I am sure offensive to many in the scene.
We don't label ourselves a "goth" band...because I feel that label defines ideas, fashion scene, etc. in concert with musical aspirations. I think most bands would hesitate to "label" themselves anything...it feels restrictive. Bands like This Ascension, Falling You, Angels of Venice, to me represent the kind of variety you can find...all wonderfully talented and hard to label.
But I am proud and not at all offended
when we are referred to as Gothic. Our music is gothic tinged...and
VL: Our web site gets an incredible amount of traffic...I really can't believe it! I think a lot of it can be attributed to Hidden Sanctuary and MP3.com as well as some heavy European Advertising done by our label there. I believe fans of underground music tend to be internet savvy and will seek out new and different things on the web.
MV: How do you feel companies such as Mp3 help or hinder an artist’s progress?
VL: Well...I think this remains to be seen. So far I can say that while we may have a couple thousand downloads per month our sales on albums do not really increase the way you would think they should based on the volume of new listeners and fan emails we get... The DAM CD's we actually sell on MP3.com haven't sold well at all... So I think this is a forum for publicity...I think we have to see what happens as far as artist progress, etc. Some bands make a tremendous amount of money from MP3.com just from downloads...it's an exciting new adventure!
MV: With all this channeled muse like energy going on, how do you know which song should be included on a new release?
VL: This is a tough one... I would have to say that I tend to be the critical one...Most of the time I can tell within a few minutes of working on something if I like it or not (no goosebumps)...For those songs that get past that initial test...Ha... if they don't move us or get us excited when we are listening to the demo or finished recording...they won't make the new album...which is scary...but leaves us with B side material..(laugh)
MV: What are some great gig memories that you can share?
VL: Gosh...opening for Love Spirals a few years ago in SF had to be one of my all time favorite shows. It was that rare "perfect show" Sadly I don't think they thought it was...but for us it was dreamy! Everything, (sound, promoter, etc.) showed up and started on time. Sound check was perfect, soundman knew how to mix the monitors, my ringlets turned out perfect : ) and we played a great set for a full house that loved it. Very often what we hear(or can't hear) on stage is frightening...on this night it sounded almost as good on stage as it did in the club...we can't ask for more than that :)
MV: Now that you are on Metropolis Records, can we expect a CD-ROM on the forthcoming release? If so, what theme would you strive for?
VL: This is something we are thinking about...I would love to incorporate some video, interview, and media footage on the album...The theme is very up in the air at this point.... Stay tuned!
MV: What is your favorite Claire Voyant song thus far and why?
VL: "Time and the Maiden" (right now) this does change frequently : ) It was the first song that when I listened back to it I thought...wow! I think if this came on in a club or radio show I would really like it...The song completely wrote itself...one night we all came in and in about an hour were astonished that this song just came out...I was on a high for weeks...that's what keeps us coming back for more!
MV: How did you and Daniel Meyer actually hook up to form HMB?
VL: We are both managed by Colin Gibbens. Daniel and Dion had done a remix for us for "Time Again" and I guess Daniel liked my voice:)
MV: For those who never heard HMB, how would you describe the music?
VL: This is always a tough one...hmmm...it is dark "electro-pop" I can't think of a better description than that : )
MV: Is it only the two of you in HMB or are there others?
VL: On the album that will be released
in 2001 there will be some other guest vocalists. In Strict Confidence
does a track and Daniel and Vanessa Briggs do a track. If we decide to
make another album I believe it will be Daniel, Myself and Chris Ross (programmer/keyboards
for Claire Voyant) Chris did a
MV: How does the HMB project differ from Haujobb for Daniel?
VL: It's much more vocal oriented
pop...at least for my contributions...I can't really answer this one for
him...From what he has said so far I think he enjoys this because it is
different. The process is: He works on something, sends it to me,
I cut it up, arrange it, sing on it, send back the tracks, he works
more magic, and voila!
MV: You mentioned about people being complacent and just listening to music without seeking something more. Expand if you will on this since many folks are guilty of just listening and not delving into the music deeper to feel the artistic essence. Describe this process and the resultant feelings for those who have no clue what this all means.
VL: boy...this is tough! I can't
really explain it in any way that it makes sense...I think that it requires
a bit of vulnerability and to know what you like...I can't really describe
it more than that...some people are extremely moved by things I can't stand...Art
is so subjective that only the individual knows what stirs them and what
touches their soul...that is what brings communities together..like the
underground goth, ethereal, and darkwave scenes. The same aesthetic longing...only
satisfied by dark and moody textures. Others might be in Nirvana listening
to Garth Brooks (aaagh!!)....but I know it happens...basically I think
MV: Why do you think so many have tuned out this essential component of hearing music?
VL: I think you get callused to music when you hear the same 20 songs all day long...(unless it was Peter Murphy...Depeche Mode...well...maybe even then) a lot of the music fans today like what they are told to like by MTV and the radio.
MV: Besides Claire Voyant, who else would you recommend to listeners in order to search those feelings that they need to find to "hear" the music?
VL: It depends on the person... I am VERY opinionated and not musically well rounded...so I hesitate to just give my list of favorite bands...I think you know it when you hear it. Stop....Listen...let yourself get goosebumps!
MV: Do you think that reviewers who write bad and/or nasty reviews have a hidden agenda or have they just not "heard" the music?
VL: I think writers that write bad reviews are just that. Writer's that write bad reviews have opinions and have taken the time to write them down and have found a forum to have their opinions heard. I relish a good review so I must also respect the not so good. It stings initially to hear someone say negative things about our music...but that is ONE opinion. I have actually bought albums based on reviews that were more negative. The reasons why the writers disliked them were the reasons I like some music...they turned out to be some of my favorites!
The people that write NASTY reviews are just rude. I think if you think an album is worth so little that you can absolutely trash it...your opinion is worthless to everyone and mean spirited. I think our scene is pretty good about not trashing artists. A lot of people in this genre are just "asking to be moved" I love that : )
To learn more about this dynamic band, please visit the web pages listed below.
Band Web Site: www.clairevoyant.com
Contact: Victoria Lloyd firstname.lastname@example.org